Queensland dumped out of Super Rugby finals

The Queensland Reds responded to coach Brad Thorn’s demands for State of Origin intensity but they could not match the polish of the Crusaders as they bowed out of the Super Rugby Pacific finals.

The Reds trailed by just one point early in the second half following Filipo Daugunu’s try before the Crusaders flexed their championship muscle to score 21 unanswered points for a comfortable 37-15 win in Friday’s opening quarter final in Christchurch.

It was a disappointing but predictable finish to a Queensland season that went off the rails following serious injuries to key Wallabies James O’Connor and Taniela Tupou.

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The latter’s scrummaging skills were sorely missed as the Crusaders bullied the Reds set-piece to set the platform for a triumph that books them a home semi final next week.

“We need to take another step, clearly,” Thorn said.

“I’ve had an edge all week because I wanted to get a job done. We wanted to do something pretty special and we haven’t achieved that.”

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Try-scoring wingers Daugunu and Suliasi Vunivalu both impressed to give Wallabies coach Dave Rennie a reminder of their attacking abilities before the Test squad to play England is named after the semis.

The Crusaders tries were scored by All Blacks backs Will Jordan, Richie Mo’unga and Sevu Reece plus the clincher from massive prop Tamaiti Williams.

“Credit to the Crusaders, they were brilliant tonight,” Reds co-captain Liam Wright said.

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“I thought our boys really stuck it to them and took the challenge to them in that first 50-odd minutes which is all we wanted to ask. We knew the odds were against us and things like that but I think we rocked up to play tonight so we can be proud of that but the Crusaders outclassed in that last 20-30 minutes.”

Wright lamented the scrum struggles which sabotaged quality ball for his backs and the loss leaves Australia with just two title hopes – the Waratahs and Brumbies – who will tackle the Chiefs and Hurricanes respectively on Saturday.

“Unfortunately it’s not the result we wanted this year,” Wright said.

“We wanted to go all the way, deep into finals and obviously take home the trophy. I think that just shows the legacy of that when we really show up and prepare and do the work that we can really stick it to these teams. Obviously the limitation there and the work on is that we’ve got to do it for the full 80 which is where we got classified tonight.

“But the Crusaders are a great outfit and I think it gives us confidence, showing we can put it against them and match them physically. A few things like our scrum and lineout didn’t go our way but we managed to front up physically in the contest and that’s something to take forward.

“It’s obviously tough looking at a scoreline like that, to take some positives out of it but good things happened tonight, I think we took our step forward from last week and in the end, the Crusaders were too good so congrats to them.”

There was concern over Wright’s co-captain, Tate McDermott, who was put in a neck brace and left the field in a medicab before getting a positive prognosis.

“Tate’s good, it’s tough to see him knocked around like that but he’s a gutsy little halfback and he puts his all in for the team,” Wright said.

“He’s walking around, he’s fine now and we’re happy to report that he’ll be OK.”

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